THERE MUST HAVE been a split second of dread for Brian O’Driscoll when Mauro Bergamasco took him for a ride in Italy at the weekend.
The Leinster centre shot forward as a dummy runner as Jonathan Sexton located Rob Kearney. Bergamasco had his number, scooped him off the pitch and drove him back to earth with interest. O’Driscoll wrestled briefly with the flanker on the turf before seeking out the match officials.
The immediate, on-field decision was advantage to Zebre for a knock forward. Leinster coach Joe Schmidt spoke after the game about his players needing greater protection. Bergamasco has yet to be cited.
Speaking about the incident to TheScore.ie, O’Driscoll said, “It’s sometimes nice to be tackled when you have the ball.
“It’s not for me to be worrying about. You hope the match officials are going to take action on those occasions. I’ll try and put my faith in their hands.”
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Leinster squandered a 17-13 lead against Zebre to go in level at the break. O’Driscoll and his teammates upped their game in the second half before eventually securing the bonus point win.
“I think we were guilty of just seeing out the half before its time,” said the 34-year-old. “You can’t do that. You have to literally play it out until the clock goes red and the ball goes dead. We switched off a little bit and that’s irritating. Joe has picked up on that this week and we certainly can’t afford to do anything like that and expect to go through the motions and see out games.”
O’Driscoll paid credit to the players that earned Leinster five league wins while the international contingent were on Six Nations. When the Ireland players returned to the fold there was ‘a hiccup’ against Ulster but valuable wins over Wasps and Munster followed.
Looking ahead to the Amlin Cup match against Biarritz, O’Driscoll feels the area of Leinster’s game that needs most attention is defence [88 points conceded in the last five matches]. He said:
If you’re allowing them to get 20/25 points, having go go out and get 30 and 40 points yourselves, against better teams it will be tougher. We want to cut down on errors in defence and keep their points as low as possible. Any attacks we create ourselves and points we score after that will be a bonus.”
O’Driscoll joked about enduring more than a few sleepless nights since the arrival of his daughter, Sadie, but still found time to watch videos of a Biarritz team that are 11th in the French Top 14.
“They look like a side that should be much further up the league than that… Any team that manages to be in the last 11 Heineken Cups in a row, coming out of the French league, that’s pretty good going.
“They’re going to be tough opposition but we’d like to think we’d be a handful ourselves.”
TheScore.ie will be liveblogging all the Challenge Cup action from 2pm this Saturday.